The most sought-after membership in Dallas no longer requires golf clubs, though interested parties must live in or near the Park Cities. They must request access from the club’s leaders. And, once in, members who break any of the group’s 41 rules risk an unceremonious ejection.
In the year since it was founded, Park Cities Online Yard Sale has grown from a casual, Facebook-hosted forum for friends to buy and sell unwanted items to a highly competitive club boasting nearly 10,000 members and a waiting list of 4,500.
I am one of the unlucky 4,500.
I first heard about PCOYS in April, when some friends confessed their addiction. They spoke in a language I didn’t understand, making references to ISOs (in search of) and PPUs (porch pick-up), bumping and cross-posting. They recounted seeing designer shoes and handbags, furniture, and housewares being sold for a fraction of their original prices. There were similar groups out there—Lakewood, Lake Highlands, even another Highland Park-affiliated group—“but this one’s the best,” they assured me.
Curious, I requested to join. A week later, I laughed defensively about not having been accepted. Another week later, I was furious. A week after that, I conducted a paranoia-driven sweep of my Facebook profile, looking for reasons I may have been deemed unsuitable. Friends suggested I message the administrators to state my case; I refused to beg.
Soon, I began to hear rumors that the group’s founder, Peggy Sutcliffe, was planning to spin off the concept into a for-profit venture. A quick Google search uncovered the bones of a stand-alone PCOYS site that would charge for access. Was this my chance?
I reached out to Sutcliffe, who confirmed the existence of the new site and projected a summer launch. The new site is restricted to the Park Cities, immediately adjacent ZIP codes, and Lakewood, and offers added benefits for its members, including reviewer ratings and improved searchability. The lengthy list of rules, which Sutcliffe admits has driven some people away, will carry over to the new site. But she insists it’s those rules—and her diligent implementation of them—that makes the group so successful.
“Members know I am there to enforce the rules, so they feel more comfortable,” she says. “There’s someone they can go to if something goes wrong.”
That sense of comfort will now come at a price: $3.33 a month. Considering how much time Sutcliffe, a Highland Park native and stay-at-home mom, spends monitoring the site, it hardly seems like a money grab. Still, even for a nominal fee, why would someone pay when free Facebook options abound?
“I believe that the quality of members and what they expect from this group will keep them with me,” Sutcliffe says. “Everyone watches out for each other, which doesn’t exist in the other groups.”
As a disgruntled member of the 4,500, I have just one more question for Mrs. Sutcliffe: do you take American Express?